It’s all over. The question now is whether the London Olympics will live on, and fulfil the pledge made at the time of the London bid by Lord Coe and Tony Blair that the event would “inspire a generation” to become more involved in sport.
There were other aims as well, including regeneration of a previously run down part of London, establishing Great Britain as a leader in sport, and promoting the country as a welcoming and attractive destination for visitors. All highly laudable, but the one which has captured the most attention is “inspire a generation“, not least because of the prominence it has been given by commentators as well as the signage at the Olympic venues.
But hang on a minute. Isn’t that a bit exclusive? If we are spending £9.3 billion and want to use it to get younger people to be more involved in sport, what about us old codgers? Where’s our legacy? Admittedly I have seen a few more people wobbling around the country lanes on bikes recently, so maybe it has resonated with an older generation as well. But by and large we older folks are not, shall we say, the target audience for the principal legacy.
So has the whole event been and gone without any lasting impact on people like me?
No, far from it. It has achieved something rather remarkable, speaking purely for myself.
It has got me to rethink a couple of hitherto somewhat deeply entrenched beliefs. Or Truths as I prefer to call them. And what’s more, it has “inspired” me to put them out there for the whole world to see. Deep breath. Here goes.
Truth #1. Politicians, Quangos, Committees and other such supposedly do-gooding bodies are inefficient, power-seeking excuses for laziness and general fat-cat snouts-in-trough behaviour, which typically waste public money, and they should all be fired. LOCOG, being another Committee, was bound to screw it up, and we Brits all risked embarassment and general global humiliation.
WRONG. They did us proud. Much to my amazement (and I know I am not alone in this), we pulled it off with style, panache, creativity and good humour, in every sense and in every way. We showed what we are capable of, and punched way above our weight, leaving other nations gasping somewhat and wondering how on earth they could ever better it. My faith in “the system” is somewhat restored, and I hereby promise to pay my next tax bill with more good humour and a lot more Trust. If only we could do this type of thing at every level a bit more often, we would not have a recession, and good old Britannia would be a better place to live.
Truth #2. Today’s “Youth” is a disaffected, lazy, socially autistic and generally dysfunctional generation, as exemplified by last summer’s riots, and they wouldn’t know what a hard day’s graft is if it slapped them in the face. If they are our future, we are all doomed.
WRONG. Looking at the 80,000 volunteer Gamesmakers in London, many of whom fitted the “Youth” profile, and the cheerful , energised and can-do attitude they displayed throughout, there is no question that they are highly motivated. altruistic, positive and skilled ambassadors for their generation, and we should be inspired by what they bring to our society. Apparently 100,000 people have now volunteered to donate time and support to sports centres around the country, inspired no doubt by what they saw on their TV screens. Well done!
There you have it. I never would have thought I’d be so deeply moved by a sporting event, or so impressed by what we are capable of. Well done the lot of you, and thank you for a long overdue wake up call on some lazy and Grumpy Old Git thinking. You gave me a kick in the backside which I will never forget. I’m missing it already (the Olympics, that is, not the kick.) Sigh.
Oh, and if you are a suffering Olympic withdrawal symptoms, here’s a wonderful highlights video from the Beeb. Enjoy!